Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday formally registered for a Master of Arts (MA) and PhD degrees at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
Obasanjo, 77, registered to study Christian Theology in the School of Arts and Social Sciences of the university.
The former president was among students, who graduated at the institution’s first convocation ceremony in January 2009.
The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Vincent Tenebe, said admission and registration in universities were not marked by special ceremonies but that Obasanjo’s was a special case.
“When special people are involved, when passionate, sensitive and exemplary leaders whose leadership styles are people-oriented, committed and selfless in words and action are involved, then special attention and little celebration is in order,” he said.
Tenebe commended Obasanjo for his efforts in the educational development of the country by way of resuscitating NOUN and ensuring the vigorous development of the institution.
He said the former president was a leader to be emulated for his quest to see the development of Nigeria through the new technology in education.
Tenebe said the former president’s quest for higher education so far had served as a boost to the student population.
He said the student t population of the university had increased from 16,000 in 2010 to 308,000 in 2014 with over 150,000 active students.
Tenebe said that the staff strength of the institution also increased from 820 to 2,463 during the period.
The highpoint of the ceremony was the inauguration of the “Corruption and Anti-money Laundering Centre“ in honour of Obasanjo.
Tenebe said that the Senate of the institution in 2012 decided to honour Obasanjo for his contribution to the overall development of the country.
He, however, pleaded with government to expedite action in ensuring that law graduates of the institution were admitted to study at the Nigerian Law School.
The vice-chancellor also called on government to allow other graduates of the university to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme.
In his acceptance speech, Obasanjo challenged Nigerian youths and the other citizens to put more efforts in their bid to seek knowledge.
Obasanjo said that acquisition of knowledge at any age remained critical to personal and national development and transformation.
“Some years ago, when I decided to register as a student of NOUN, I did it for a number of reasons.
“Primary, to acquire knowledge, particularly in Christian Theology, not because I want to be a pastor but rather, to know God more and be able to serve Him better.
“Secondly, I wanted to make a statement that no matter one’s age or position, there should be no barrier to continuous learning.
“Thirdly, I wanted to showcase this university, knowing full well that this country will at no foreseeable future be able to provide adequate access to millions of Nigerians who are yearning for knowledge,” he said.
Obasanjo called on Nigerians seeking for knowledge to consider NOUN as a viable alternative, which was by no means inferior to the conventional universities,
He pleaded with the management of the institution to treat him like any other student.
He said he recognised the role of courtesy in his case but would be more comfortable to be treated like an ordinary student.
The former president urged the alumni of the university to continue to give it the necessary support to solve its various challenges.